My sister-in-law recently selected a new dentist based upon a Groupon she discovered. I was initially skeptical about this, but she expressed having a positive experience at this office. A few weeks later, my sister invited me and my wife to a restaurant she had chosen as the result of a Groupon offer.  Just this week, my wife received a Groupon massage gift certificate that was a birthday gift.  While using Groupon to receive a discount at a restaurant or on a massage seems like a no brainer, I wondered how many people would choose a dentist based upon this kind of advertising.  Obviously, as a dentist who works hard to provide the highest quality of care, my desire would be for patients to find new dentists based upon glowing referrals and reviews from current patients, not from a discount program.  However, I am always open to examining new marketing ideas to determine whether they are a good fit for my office.

What is Groupon?  Groupon is a web-based advertising company that works with local businesses to provide daily deals in cities throughout the United States.  Businesses design a “deal” to share for one day on Groupon, typically offering discounts of 30 – 60%.  From what I have heard, businesses receive half of the sales from this deal, while Groupon keeps the remainder.  Consumers sign up to receive emailed daily deal announcements and can buy a Groupon which is like a discounted gift certificate to local businesses, including restaurants, spas, clothing stores and dentists.

So, how well would Groupon work for a dentist?  A recent discussion on www.DentalTown.com showed several dentists experiencing great success with their Groupon deals.  However, other dentists pointed out problems with the types of patients these deals typically attract.  When I began my first practice in California, I offered discounted deals to new patients through direct mailings (Internet advertising was not yet an option).  Due to my location, the overall population I treated had a higher transiency rate than most areas.  The patients who responded to new patient deals were the most likely to come in one time for their discounted checkup and then refuse much needed treatment.  Would Groupon advertising produce the same result…an influx of patients who only appoint for their dirt cheap checkups?

If you are a dentist who has used Groupon or a patient who has found a new dentist through the use of Groupon, I would love to learn about your experiences.  Please feel free to comment on how you think Groupon would work for a dental office.

UPDATE: Several months after this blog post was shared, the American Dental Association warned dentists to consult an attorney before participating in Groupon or other social marketing. You can learn more by reading the ADA’s Statement on Dental Groupons.